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He’s the smallest dog in the world, but he’s got a huge place in your heart. He’s fragile, cute, cuddly and lively. You can barely remember life without Oscar, your Chihuahua. However, it hasn’t all been without problems. Unfortunately, Oscar is deaf. But this doesn’t mean his life should be massively impaired. He’s still bright and intelligent, so you’d like to teach him some basic tricks. In fact, whether he was born unable to hear or whether he lost his hearing later on in life, he’s still able to learn useful commands like other dogs.
Training Oscar some easy tricks will be fantastic for him and you. It will mean you are able to instruct him to sit, for example, before meals. It can mean you can get him to wait by roads since he can’t hear traffic. It also means you can still get him to perform for you when guests are over.
Because your Chihuahua is deaf, training will, of course, have its challenges. For example, you won’t be able to use a clicker or verbal commands. However, there is still a number of effective techniques you can use. You simply need to appeal to his other senses, such as his sight and his appetite. So training will consist of carefully showing him what it is you want him to do and then reinforcing the trick with a tasty incentive.
If Oscar is young he should be a fast learner. This means you could see results in just a few days. However, if he’s older and fairly uninterested in learning anything new then you may need several weeks. Succeed and you’ll have a great way to bond with your Chihuahua while also teaching him useful commands that can help keep him safe.
Before you get to work, you will need to get your hands on a few things. You will need a generous supply of treats or small pieces of his favorite food. Toys will also be required. A flashlight and leash will be needed too.
You don’t need to set aside too much time for training. Just 10 minutes or so each day should do the job. You can practice in a quiet room or outside in the yard.
Once you have the above, just bring patience and an optimistic attitude, then work can begin!
The Start Early Method
The earlier you can start training your deaf Chihuahua, the more receptive he will be and the quicker he will learn. So take him to obedience group classes so he can socialize and learn from other dogs.
Getting his attention
Before you can teach him any easy tricks, you will need to get his attention. An effective way to do this is to stamp on the floor. The vibrations should alert Oscar to your presence.
You then need to follow up the stamp by giving him a treat. Spend a few minutes each day doing this. Soon enough he will always look up at you when you stamp, so you always have an effective way to grab his attention.
Training a deaf dog can be hard work for both you and him. He may have to work harder than the average dog to pick up the same basic commands. So, only train for 5 to 10 minutes at a time. Plus, train when it is approaching meal times as he will be more eager to please then.
Introduce a ‘well done’ signal
Teaching him easy tricks will be far simpler if you have an effective way of letting him know he’s done a good job. So introduce a 'job well done' signal. For example, give him a thumbs up whenever he performs a trick correctly. This will act like a clicker and speed up the learning process significantly.
The ‘Roll Over’ Method
The first thing you need to do is get his attention. Because he’s deaf you can use a flash light to get him to focus on you. Then kneel before him and encourage him to lay down. You can do this by bringing a treat to the floor.
Now you need to take a treat from one side of his head and slowly rotate it over and around so he’s forced to roll over as he tries to follow the treat. At the same time, use your spare hand to gently encourage him over for the first few times.
Once he has rolled over, be sure to give him the treat and reward him. The happier your Chihuahua feels at the end of the trick the more eager he will be to play again.
Introduce a gesture
Practice this a few times until he starts to get the hang of it. At this point you can introduce a hand gesture that will signal to him what you want him to do. Simply stick your index finger out towards him and spin it round in a circular motion. Get his attention with the flash light and then give the gesture each time and he will soon realize what you want him to do.
Lose the rewards
You will need to practice this each day for him to pick it up quickly. But when he is at that stage and you can get him to roll over even when distractions are around, you can slowly cut out the treats.
The Stop Method
Fit Oscar to a leash. A leash will ensure you have his attention and control when he cannot hear you. You will then need a few treats in your pocket or one of his favorite toys.
Make sure he is watching you and then start slowly walking backwards. Also ensure you have space behind you and that you won’t trip up over anything.
After a few seconds of walking back, swiftly move towards him. At the same time also put your hand up like a traffic signal. This quick change of direction from you coupled with the stop signal should make him hesitate and stop for a few seconds.
As soon as he stops, throw him a treat and show him you’re happy by smiling and stroking him. He may be deaf, but Chihuahua’s still learn by reading their owners faces and emotions.
Increase the time
Now practice this a few times each day. However, once he gets the hang of it you can lose the leash. You can also leave him waiting there for slightly longer each time before you give him his reward. Finally, you don’t need to walk towards him, just use the hand signal to get him to stop when he walks towards you.
By James Barra
Published: 03/08/2018, edited: 01/08/2021